Monday, January 22, 2007

Colts defeat Patriots, 38-34

The New England Patriots’ season came to end. It had been exciting, and was looking to us like a Super Bowl was in reach. The day after their AFC Championship Game loss to the Indianapolis Colts, we are looking at regular life again, and significantly down-sized Super Bowl parties.

The Colts and Peyton Manning were better – enough so to win. They showed a much improved defense, but the game toward the end became a typical Colts-Patriots affair – where the teams trade hectic drives until the clock runs out. In the first half we got touchdowns on such drives, and the Colts got field goals; that was to be somewhat reversed in the second half.

Manning was very much on target; although under a fair amount of pressure. Dallas Clark did what Marvin Harris did to the Pats in the regular season game. Stabbed us repeatedly with vaulting catches followed by speedy gallops.. I remember at the time of the regular season game [saw the game from a bar at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas where a playoff atmosphere hovered and I sat next to a cold calculating Colt follower] thinking maybe Patriot Coach Bellicheck was saving some tricks for their eventual playoff get together - not showing his hand. Wistful and wrong was I.

The Colts quarterback and his receivers are uniquely able to attack through the air. Short, long, in the middle. Most notably, Manning caught Clark a number of times on the run. It is astounding but not surprising when they pick up 40 yards on a single play.

The hometown crowd is a bit hurt by the breakdown after going to a 21-3 lead, and a 21-6 lead at halftime. On our halftime call I told Ma I was going to bed as the game was foregone, but I was just kidding. The Colts can generate points like New York short-order cooks shooting out breakfast specials. I think it is fair to say that the Pats victory the previous week against San Diego - which as at the time the “greatest football team in history” capable of outscoring the score happy Colts in spades - took something out of the Pats.

But you take the cards you are dealt, right? You cannot say that was the reason the team couldn’t run effectively, why Caldwell dropped the ball twice, why the Colts often could run in 6 and 7 yard gulps, why a headbutt on QB penalty tacked 12 yards onto a 14 yard Reggie Wayne reception, why we had 12 men in the huddle when two or three first-downs might have sealed our three-point lead.

Against San Diego, Tom Brady accomplished his usual magic to create the tying and winning scores within a five to eight minute period; with a little luck. He could not do it in one minute yesterday.

It makes me melancholy because the Pats still had a fair core of players that had been onboard through three Super Bowl victories, including Mike Vrabel, Teddy Bruschi, Larry Izzo, Troy Brown, Brady, and of course the head coach Bellicheck. Standouts from that run Adam Viniateri and Dan Klecko [a line man who scored a touchdown in the game] played for the Colts yesterday. That is the way it is. If the Pats had one a fourth Superbowl in six years [which would require them to bury the Bears that slaughtered the team in its 1986 SuperBowl visit] they would have moved into the realm of truly historically great teams. And I cannot blame the country in large part being glad for Manning an Dungee as they are now in a position to prove they are ultimately a successful team. Ultimately successful is not the same as truly historically great.

The Pats of 2006 worked hard and tried. For me Tom Brady is still Tom Terrific, my boy Tommy. The luck was not with the crew this day. In one moment when Reggie Wayne bobbled the ball, the sphere alone in the air, it seemed, maybe…the football gods would shine on us again. When we were great, just last week in fact, these things seemed to bounce to us.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Travelling Man Blues


Sunnyland Slim - Mr. Blues Piano - was hard to capture for sure. One thing about him was a movement. I do have one 8mm film [60 sec] of him driving. Otherwise, its pictures in photos and words on tape - a few misc documents. And these particular picks using my old Brownie Reflex ... which sometimes caught a lot of motion. I took a series of pictures once, as he headed to hail a cab and go to Seattle. i think this was 61st St.

This handcolored art was used as part of promotion for the 45 "Tired But I Havent Got Started" - which we called "Travelling Man Blues" up to the time Slim put it on vinyl. The words went: "The Greyhound Bus and the Trailways, the airplanes did not let me down." Click on the image and access a slightly-larger [full-size] version on my Flckr pages.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

This Is Your Brain on Music – Neurology of music

Music grows and is learned in cultures. ‘Music hath power to charm the savage beast,’ is how the saying goes, or, as Ed Sanders, counter-played upon the theme, ‘music hath power to alarm the civilized beast.’

Music also hath its language, its points and counterpoints. These matters are considered in This Is Your Brain on Music, a recent book by Daniel J. Levitin, that fleshes out a lot of concepts about music and how it works upon the brain. The books goes a bit further than just that, considering how the mind processes music. It touches upon a lot of recent research on the brain, and takes a scientific look at this essential art. It’s bias is on display in its full title: This Is Your Brain on Music:The Science of a Human Obsession.

I’ve looked at the CDs and vinyl and tapes that line my apartment, and I have seen it as something like an obsession .. but I think ‘obsession’ is a loaded term for a scientific tome. The author might have taken a bit more care in naming the book, as neuro matters are still only vaguely proved and so akin to pseudo science. But if you set out to popularize, you might as well not leave any ammo unused.

First. The background. You push the little valve down. The music goes round and round. It comes out here. And it enters your ear. And it dives into your neural matter like a white-suited Raquel Welch hell bent for havoc. You learn the meter, language, and tone of the music of your culture. All that is associated universally [within a group] is aligned with specific or obtuse human emotions. And the composer/writer plays with the human listeners perceptions, emotions, hopes and desire, and builds on what is expected, breaks it down, twists it, whatever, etcetera, sometimes deftly, sometimes imaginatively, sometimes to no effect (think: Pickwick records).

That’s Levitin’s premise; it is not ridiculous; and he reiterates it with examples that generally seem to buttress it; throughout the book. He picks out familiar examples from artists such as Beethoven and the Beatles. You know how She’s So Heavy has a strange ending? That’s an eample of howmusic plays with the expectations of the musically-trained mind. It ends in the middle of a note. I’ve never been able to anticipate it. Here There and Everywhere? It does not resolve on the note you think it would. But, I nfact the next nmber starts on that very note.

Most of the people I know grew up with rocknroll or pop music as the basic musical culture. Listening to music consciously was something one associated with the classical domain, jazz, or, after 1966, with guitar heros of rock by way of Ravi Shankar. You’d listen and it might go like this: You would visualize the notes that you were hearing; the different parts of the orchestra. And they would kind of proceed in marshaled fashion. Birds of music would swoop. Legions of music would charge. The birds would swoop in odd and pleasurable directions, or the legions charge would surprise and thrill, if the author was clever and artful in note, timber, key, and cadence. [Lovers of abstraction can cringe now.]

But the style of writing in This Is Your Brain on Music:The Science of a Human Obsession doesn’t quite meet the mark for me. If you read it, and you have interest in science the mind, and music, you will find many facts of interest. Cause Daniel J. Leviton as best he can pulls out all the stops.

Levitin is able, no doubt. He is a genuine scientist. Levitin ‘runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University,’ where he also holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communications. Whew. He is also a session man. Yeah, he preens a bit, mentioning a little breathlessly he worked with the bass guy who is a judge on American Idol, and he went to dinner with Neuromancer Extraordinaire Francs Crick. But it’s not too bad.

He has made an effort to engage a non-specialist audience in what I will call the neurology of music, by tapping into shared musical experiences such as the Beatles, Beethoven, the Police, and, yes, the Carpenters.

Now the king of this stuff is Oliver “The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” Sacks who nicedly conveys his impressions on the dust jacket of TIYBOM.’ Endlessly stimulating.” Says Oliver. Which is his way of saying I think there is a lot of stuff here.

But my feeling is that, chappie, much of what consists now of fair neurological conjecture may well be discarded within a decade. And this book, as it kicks the gong around, my just be a bit of clatter. There is not much mention here of the notion of feedback in music, but maybe someone else will address that notion, and Dr Levitin can take aim on that popeye’s efforts. Theyll be peace without end, everyneighbor a friend, and everone a

This is your brain on music on Amazon

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